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The Key to Succeeding When Working in an Emotionally Challenging Field


Every working professional experiences stressful situations at work. Practicing self-care is the best way to manage that stress and reduce feelings of burnout. For professionals working in extremely challenging fields such as human services and health care, practicing self-care is vital, and in some cases, required.

Counselors, therapists and child welfare workers who work with traumatized individuals have an increased likelihood of experiencing compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress. The essential act of listening to firsthand trauma experiences can take an emotional toll on these professionals, impacting their health and the quality of services provided. Self-care is the key to help build a healthy work-life balance and improve outcomes for clients.

Here are 10 self-care tips to try:

  1. Write down your self-care goals and plan. You are more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down, and even more so when you share them with a friend who believes you can succeed.
  2. Get a self-care buddy. Identify someone to support your self-care plan and push you to stick with it.
  3. Practice positive thinking. Before you go to bed each night, write down three things that went well that day.
  4. Allow yourself to disconnect. Establish “no work zones” in certain areas of the office or at home. You can also practice disconnecting from your phone by putting it in airplane mode for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Schedule time for self-care. Block off time on your calendar to help ensure you stick with your self-care plan.
  6. Do what you enjoy. Spend time with family or friends, read a book, listen to music, see a movie, play games, etc.
  7. Give positive feedback. Post a “praise board” in your office so that coworkers can leave positive comments about one another’s great work.
  8. Bond with your team. Go out to lunch, do a team building activity or play a game to get to know each other better.
  9. Never stop learning. Attend a class or seminar on something that interests you or start a new hobby.
  10. Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating healthy food, exercising regularly, attending health checkups and getting enough sleep.

At KVC Health Systems, our team of behavioral health and child welfare professionals have the privilege of helping people overcome obstacles and thrive. We do this by providing in-home family support, foster care, adoption, behavioral healthcare and children’s psychiatric hospital treatment. Our tagline, “People matter,” reminds us to provide the highest quality services to every child, adult and family. To provide our best to clients, we must first care well for ourselves and each other. That’s why we often say, “People matter” begins with each of us through self-care and supporting each other.

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